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Cinderella gets invitation to attorney general's party

| Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009

This was not an invitation Bill DeWeese wanted to receive.

Even if it was printed on the finest stock and its words were elegantly embossed, rest assured the House majority whip did not want an invite like this appearing in his mailbox:

CHEERS!

You cordially are invited to spill your guts before the most recent convening of a 23-member state grand jury investigating rampant corruption in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

When: At your and your attorney's leisure, but we don't advise putting this off indefinitely. In fact, we heartily recommend appearing before the grand jury returns its latest presentment.

Where: In Harrisburg, but call the number below for the specific address and directions. Grand jury proceedings are secretive.

Light refreshments (a pitcher of water to soothe the parched throats of anxious witnesses) will be provided. Business casual or more formal attire suggested. No gift is necessary for the host.

RSVP ASAP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett's Office

717-787-8242

(This invitation is neither a direct nor implicit promise of immunity from prosecution if testimony is given.)

Many people long have wondered why DeWeese, D-Greene County, had yet to receive the above invite or one similarly worded.

Wonder no more.

DeWeese, the former House majority leader, along with current House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, and state Revenue Secretary Stephen Stetler, are the latest recipients of Corbett's sweat-inspiring solicitations.

The attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate has charged 22 people from both sides of the aisle in the ongoing investigation of the murky bog that is the General Assembly.

Should DeWeese be perspiring• Certainly.

Some Republicans charged in a scheme to divert millions in public money for political purposes received an offer to sit down in the witness chair shortly before their arrests.

Throughout the nearly 2 1/2-year probe, DeWeese has portrayed himself as a sort of Harrisburg Cinderella.

DeWeese insisted he spent his time solitarily scrubbing the Capitol's dirty floors, blindly unaware of his stepsisters' misdeeds until they left to attend Corbett's anti-corruption ball.

Not so, contends stepsister Mike Manzo, DeWeese's former chief of staff. Manzo, who is cooperating with authorities and agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges, testified at a preliminary hearing that he believes DeWeese was aware of wrongdoing.

DeWeese's attorney issued a statement saying the veteran lawmaker has cooperated with investigators since the probe began and will continue to do so. It should be noted that receiving an invitation doesn't guarantee DeWeese will be charged with a crime.

But based on the fate that has befallen the stepsisters, it hardly would be surprising to see Cinderella go to the ball after all.

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